Palmer calls in King to iron out troubled project
Clive Palmer's stalled iron ore project in Western Australia now has a second big personality watching over it, after former Leighton Holdings boss Wal King was appointed to help sort it out.
Mr King has been named as a "special adviser" to Hong Kong group CITIC Pacific, which is developing the troubled Sino Iron project on Mr Palmer's tenements.
Mr King spent 23 years as the chief executive of Leighton's engineering, construction and mining contracting business, and CITIC said its board and senior management would benefit from his extensive experience.
"His advice will be particularly helpful in respect of the Sino Iron project," CITIC said in a statement.
Mr King was feted by Leighton shareholders for much of his 23 years at the helm, but several major investments made during his time in charge turned sour after his departure in 2010.
Leighton was forced to write down more than $1 billion and announce profit downgrades after investments in Victoria's desalination plant and Brisbane's airport link went bad. The company was also hauled over the coals for its poor corporate governance and market disclosure record.
Since retirement, Mr King has become deputy chairman at Ausdrill and was recently linked with Indonesian coal miner Bumi.
He could not be contacted on Thursday.
Mr King will have his work cut out at Sino Iron, which should have been completed nearly four years ago and has blown out its budget by close to $7 billion.
Continued problems at the magnetite iron project were confirmed within the past fortnight, when CITIC said that more time would be needed to assess the stability and reliability of the first production line on the project.
The project has also become mired in a legal stoush between CITIC and Mr Palmer over payment of royalties.
A court ordered in May that Mr Palmer was owed $400,000 worth of royalties, dating back to 2008.